Swimmers remove hook from turtle’s neck

Video of rescue gets thousands of hits

A recent beachfront paddleboard outing turned into a rescue when John McDow noticed one of the turtles he and his nephews and niece were observing off of Boggy Sand beach, seemed distressed.

“There were other turtles that were swimming around but [one turtle] was just sitting on the bottom,” said McDow, who is a sales manager at Kirk’s Home Centre.

He noticed that a fishing line was tangled around one of the turtle’s front flipper and there was a large fish hook in its neck.

The subsequent mission to remove the hook was posted in a YouTube video and on Instagram earlier this week.

The rescue itself took place three weeks ago, McDow said, and lasted about 10 to 15 minutes. Even though extracting the hook was not an easy task, he said the turtle was quite compliant with the process.

“It’s like she wanted us to help,” McDow said. “She came right up to the surface and just swam next to us until we were able to get the hook out.”

The injury, he said, appeared to be recent.

“It’s a stainless steel hook, but it doesn’t have any rust,” he said, adding that the flipper didn’t appear to have suffered damage from the line that was wrapped around it. The line was about 7 feet long, he said.

McDow said he and his daughter Elena frequently see turtles off the beach. They also volunteer as monitors for nesting turtles through a Department of Environment programme.

John McDow shows off the hook he removed from a sea turtle’s neck in this image taken from a YouTube video.

Elena, 7, appears at the beginning and end of the video, providing an introduction for the action to come and promoting the safe disposal of fishing line as the clip ends. McDow said his daughter regularly posts videos on Facebook and Instagram as well, and insisted on the additional commentary.

At noon on Wednesday, the YouTube video had been viewed 240 times. But McDow said the one Elena posted on her Instagram account had been seen more than 4,000 times.

This was the first time his nephews and niece had ever seen sea turtles.

“They were really excited about it,” he said. “They live in Alabama and ever since they’ve been back, they’ve been telling everybody about it.”

Overall, he said, “It was an awesome experience.”

In this screen grab from a YouTube video, John McDow works to free a fish hook from the neck of a sea turtle during a recent encounter off Seven Mile Beach.

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  1. Wonderful story.

    I read that in the USA someone also rescued a turtle that had become entangled in a fishing net. They were later prosecuted for touching an endangered species. Seriously. I didn’t make this up.